Patricia Spears Jones

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New York State Poet, 2023–2025

Patricia Spears Jones was born in 1951 in Forrest City, Arkansas. She earned her BA at Rhodes College in 1973 and her MFA from Vermont College.

Spears Jones is the author of five collections of poetry: The Beloved Community (Copper Canyon Press, 2023); A Lucent Fire: New & Selected Poems (White Pine Press, 2015); Painkiller (Tia Chucha Press, 2010); Femme du Monde (Tia Chucha Press, 2006); and The Weather That Kills (Coffee House Press, 1995).

Spears Jones has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the Jackson Poetry Prize, fellowships and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, the Goethe Institute, and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference.

A resident of New York City since the 1970s, Spears Jones has taught creative writing at Hunter College, Barnard College, Adelphi University, and Hollins University as the 2020 Louis D. Rubin Writer-in-Residence. She has also led poetry workshops at Gemini Ink, Community of Writers, Fine Arts Work Center, Naropa, Poets House, Brooklyn Poets, Cave Canem, and at branches of the New York Public Library and the Brooklyn Public Library, among many others. She is an emeritus fellow for Black Earth Institute and an organizer of the American Poets Congress. In 2023, Spears Jones was appointed New York State Poet. In 2024, she was appointed the inaugural Lucille Clifton Poetry Chair at the Community of Writers.